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I just read the Forbes study rating the healthiest states in the US and was pleased to find my home state solidly in 37th place.  Go Tarheels!  Incidentally, if I were to rate my productivity from the past 50 weeks (roughly) since I began working on my novel, this past week would figure in at about 37th place.  That’s 37 with 1 being the most productive and 50 being the week I vegged out on the couch and watched back-to-back BBC Life and Ray Mears episodes.  This week wasn’t  as bad as that, but what did I actually do?

I planned.  There comes a time in every writing project when you have to back off from creating and do a little tidying.  For me that meant going back to my chapter outline and cleaning it up a bit.  I’d written a rough and unfinished outline several weeks back, but had abandoned it because I feared (and rightly so, as it turned out) that it would stopper the flow of ideas and words that were pouring out of me.  At the time the story was coming easily too me then and, knowing how quickly the winds of inspiration change, I prefered to let down my sails, cut off my planning engine, and let those winds push me along.  Sure enough, the winds did change and this week my engine seems to be out of gas.

It’s not that making a chapter outline isn’t important.  It is.  Some people say they can write a story, script or novel without a clear plan and maybe they can.  But in my experience, even if I think I have an idea of where my story is going but I don’t actually sit down and plan it all out in detail, I will write myself into a dead-end.   Discouraged and full of self-doubt, I don’t have the confidence to retrace my steps and begin again, this time with a plan.  That’s how so many projects never get finished.

Planning my chapter outline this week was hard going, and not entirely owing to the frustration of improving the logistics of my plot.  There were some details which I had to mull over and rework until I felt like they advanced the overall plot.   But the most frustrating part about planning is, without a doubt, having to take time off from actual writing, which can and does disrupt the flow of ideas.

How to get back into writing the story once you’ve taken off a week to plan it?  That’s my task this weekend and one that hasn’t produced much fruit yet.  Instead I’m left looking at my plan and listening to the familiar voice of my inner critic who’s whispering, “Do you really think you can do all that?”

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"The purpose of art is not a rarified, intellectual distillate -- it is life, intensified, brilliant life." ~ Alain Arias-Misson

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